Step one: Figure out where you are
Until you know "where you are" you cannot make good use of the available information. That's because you cannot know what specific information you'll need next, or what the information you'll be looking at when you get it will mean. So take the time to figure out "where you are" - literally or metaphorically -- before moving on to the next step.Step two: be sure you are seeing clearly
When we deal with information, we sometimes see through prisms - not real ones, made of glass, but "intellectual" prisms, in our minds. In other words, we approach an issue with a distorted view of it. ..... The key to seeing information clearly is to make certain there isn't a prism between you and whatever you are looking at. ........ Seeing information clearly, just as knowing where you are, means you need to have a generally accurate idea of whatever person, place, organization, situation, or issue that you're looking at.Step three: Decide what you need to decide
"The question is more important than the answer." ........ In other words, sometimes you must pause for a moment to be sure you're asking the right question.Step four: determine what you need to know
What ingredients are to a meal, information is to a decision. Once you've decided what you're going to decide, the next step is to make a list of the information you'll need to make that decision.
Step Five: Collect your information
The first thing you need to figure out is the most reliable source for each piece of information you need: .......Step Six: Turn The Information into Knowledge
You've already made a list of the information you're going to need. Now, next to each item, write down the most reliable source for it - a government agency, a university or another organization such as a business or an industry association, or specific individuals.
Now it's time to figure out the best way to collect the information from the sources you've identified: .......Give yourself as much time as possible to collect all the information you need. If you're lucky, the "information supermarkets" will supply everything through the websites to which they link. If you're not so lucky, you'll start with the "information supermarkets" and then go on to look up information in books, magazines, and by talking with people in person, on the telephone, or by email. Sometimes you will be able to do all this without ever leaving your chair. Other times you'll need to visit a library, meet with someone in person, or even travel to another city or country. As a general rule, you'll discover that there is always one source - one website, for instance, or one person - where the correct answer to your question can be found. Keep going until you find this source.
As you study the information you've collected, the first thing to look for is facts.
As you continue to study the information you've collected, you must also keep an eye out for patterns. .... This is how you will make sense of the information.
By studying the information you've collected until you have determined the facts and seen the patterns it contains, you have turned raw material into a finished product. You have turned information into knowledge.Step seven: Add the final ingredient
Before actually making your decision, there is one final ingredient you will add whether you want to or not: your own judgment.As the Author states:
Judgment is the sum total of who we are - the combined product of our character, our personality, our instincts and our knowledge. Because judgment involves more than knowledge, it isn't the same thing as education. You cannot learn judgment by taking a course, or by reading a book. This is why some of the most highly educated people in the world have terrible judgment, and why some people who dropped out of school at the age of sixteen have superb judgment. After all, the most visible pattern in the world is that different people respond to the same circumstances in different ways. Some people are naturally sensible, while others are naturally foolish. Some people enjoy taking risks, while others tend to be cautious. Some people are congenital optimists, while others are always pessimistic. Some people just seem to have good instincts, for instance about other people, or about technical issues such as whether the price of crude oil will rise or fall in the coming months. Other people's instincts always seem to lead them astray.
Now you can understand why two people, facing the same decision and armed with precisely the same information, will make different choices. As you reach your decision, you will be combining the knowledge you've gained from the information you've collected with your own character, your own personality, and your own instincts. You cannot help but do this, because you are a human being and not a machine.
At least in the short term, there is little you can do to change your judgment. It's who you are. But if you are aware of who you are - and if you have worked hard to collect information and then to turn this information into knowledge -- you will be more likely to make the decision that's right for you. And this, of course, is what analyzing information is all about.
Our world is wonderful and infinitely fascinating. But it is also complicated, and therefore very dangerous. If we are to live in peace, freedom and prosperity -- if the human species is to survive -- we must learn to rely more on our minds than on our muscles. We must force ourselves to value wisdom above strength. And this is why it's worth the time and effort to master the steps I've outlined here. When you learn how to analyze information, you are really learning how to think.